Friday, 6 February 2015


Yesterday from the train between Downham Market and Littleport I saw six Egyptian geese fly from the Great Ouse. I had seen the same species the day before in Tanzania. I liked this symmetry, as wildlife is one of the gossamer strands which weave the cobweb of my life: tough but delicate, and intricately beautiful.

The day before yesterday in Tanzania there were many birds along the road, and many more birds and mammals in our minds, as we retreated into ourselves and our thoughts, aware that the gossamer strand of our time in Tanzania must be snapped.

We stopped for lunch at Gibb's Farm, a coffee plantation on the margin of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, with an organic vegetable garden complete with fires to keep elephants away from the bananas by night. Around the restaurant, in which the fruit and vegetables come fresh from the earth, is a beautiful flower garden, inhabited by white-tailed blue flycatchers, bronze sunbirds and golden-backed weavers.

It was here, seeing a leopard design on the restaurant wall and another on a beer bottle, that I began to reflect on big cats as images in our psyche, our advertising and our culture. At Heathrow, where I was stuck for three hours before my off-peak train ticket came into force, I saw another example, promoting The Lion King. The last is from King's Lynn station where my father was kind enough to meet me at the end of a long journey.

What big cats, and small, mean in the cobweb of human lives, as neighbours, as enemies, as victims, as subjects of research, and as symbols, will surely be a common theme in my writing in the coming months. Now though, I have but two weeks to prepare for three months in Asia, and I am happy to be, very briefly, home, and to see that Tarquin and Amanda, the two call ducks dumped with the muddled mallards on the pond outside my house last autumn, are well.

Mbuzi Mawe, Serengeti. Sticking with The Lion King theme:
'Everything the light touches is our kingdom.'

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